Chef Eduardo Diaz De Leon | Nomadic fusion food bursting with flavor

Chef Eduardo Diaz De Leon in Truckee Food Shop with the lovely gift items he offers. | Priya Hutner

I am drawn into Truckee Food Shop by its clean lines, deep gray walls, beautiful array of colorful meals packaged in eco-friendly containers and jars of pickles lined up on shelves. Fresh-made sweets rest on the counter. Across the room, wood tables and industrial-style shelves display linen napkins, fermenting jars and lovely earthenware along with a fabulous selection of cookbooks, bottles of olive oil and jars of spices. It’s a visual bonanza. I am hooked. And these are not your average to-go meals.

Chef Eduardo Diaz De Leon is easy going and charming. He opened Truckee Food Shop located on the west side of town on Donner Pass Road two months ago. He went to law school only to find his passion for cooking was his path. He then went to culinary school in Vancouver.

Priya Hutner

“I finished cooking school and started working. I was a prep cook, line cook and sous chef in restaurants, then worked in the catering business. I became a private chef for a wealthy family that owned an island off the coast of Vancouver. Eventually, they asked me to be the manager for all of their kitchens at their different homes and I began managing kitchens,” he says.

After a number of years, he realized he wanted to own his own business. He moved to Truckee after he met his husband, Niels Hooper, at Burning Man 10 years ago. They married five years ago before settling in Truckee where Hooper owns a home. Hooper is an editor by trade and helps Diaz De Leon in the shop. The concept for the shop came from Diaz De Leon’s love and passion for food.

“I love entertaining. I want to provide that experience and help people realize they can host a dinner. I wanted to inspire people to be to be good hosts and to get into cooking,” Diaz De Leon says.

The shop offers sandwiches, salads, to-go dinner entrees and Diaz De Leon caters special events, as well.

Chef Eduardo Diaz De Leon standing behind the counter at Truckee Food Shop. | Priya Hutner

“Being in California there is a bounty of ingredients almost all year round. We cook seasonally. We make everything here in house. I like to introduce people to food they maybe haven’t been exposed to,” he says, adding he wants his clients to have an experience around the food he prepares.

Of late, he says, his passion has been pickling: “They have the proper acidity, salt, sweetness and crunch base.”

Diaz De Leon creates recipes from his heritage. His mother gave him his great-grandmother’s handwritten recipes. Her recipes for pickled jalapeño peppers also line the shelves in his shop. The olive oil he uses to cook with is from a farm in Petaluma, which he also sells in the shop.

“I trained in French cooking school in the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver was largely influenced by Asian flavors and Middle Eastern flavors. I’m a bit of a bit of a nomad in terms of cooking,” he says Diaz De Leon.

His nomadic cooking roots are illuminated on his menu. Some of the items on the lunch menu include the Mexican torta with carnitas, salsa verde and beans in a baguette; the American Sandwich includes fried chicken and coleslaw on brioche; the Lebanese is prepared with lamb, harissa, mint yogurt on a semolina roll; and the Bavarian is served with brie, pickles and greens on a pretzel bun.

In the refrigerator section of the shop you’ll find an array of to-go items such as Caesar salad, Poke, pork ribs with barbecue sauce, pasta dishes, tuna rice bowl, ahi tuna with vegetables over jasmine rice, quinoa bowls, green bean and shiitake mushroom salad, and summer soups such as heirloom gazpacho. | truckeefoodshop.com